What makes us different from our competitors?

When we think in terms of what makes us different from our competitors, a lot of it should be addressing who is our ideal target market? And it’s largely going to consist of people who want to do business the way that we do business, and then matching up our style of business with the way that they want to do it.

David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co-host Jay McFarland and I will ask the question, what makes you different? Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: Thank you for asking me to be with you again. David. I love this question because if we don’t know what makes us different, I think it becomes harder to sell or to present yourself or anything else, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and playing to your strengths.

Well, that’s obviously something that we should be doing, but I’ve met a lot of people that don’t have a self-awareness. They wouldn’t be able to answer this question, and so they don’t really know where to focus and they’re kind of haphazard.

David: Yeah. In the promotional products industry in particular, people struggle with this because you have all these distributors who are essentially representing very similar lines of product or the same lines of product from the same manufacturers.

So a lot of people look at that and they say, well, how can I be different if I’m selling exactly the same products as all the other people that I’m competing with? And if you ask that question in a rhetorical sense, well, how can I possibly do it? You’re doing it wrong. You need to actually ask yourself that question in a way where you demand results of yourself and sit down.

Bullet point it out. What is it that makes me different? What could make me different? What can make me different? A lot of times when I ask the question in live seminars and I say, what is it that differentiates you from your competition? And sometimes people will shout things out and sometimes somebody will say service, right?

And I’ll say, who here feels their service differentiates them and sets them apart, and 40% of the hands in the room go up? And I say, okay, keep ’em up and look around. You know, can you all be right? Can your service differentiate you from the other people who have their hands in the air?

And it’s kind of a rhetorical question, but the answer kind of has to be yes. It has to be yes. I have to be able to differentiate myself in a way that justifies my existence in the market. And so I can be different. I can be different than you. We can both be great potentially in different areas. You know, if you think in terms of the Walmart approach, you know, their thing is cheapest price.

Ideally, we don’t want to be that in our market, right? But there is probably something that we can do that will better serve the clients that we’re looking for than what other people in our market are doing.

Jay: Yeah, it’s such an important question if we’re all selling the same product. Then what’s going to make somebody choose me over somebody else?

And we talked about it in the last podcast. Relationships can be a, a certain part of that, but our systems are turnaround. You know, there’s so many things we can look at internally to say that we live up to that.

I think the other hard part, and maybe it’s an important part, is to figure out how to assess what your competitors are doing.

If you’re losing sales to your competitors, can you try and assess what they’re doing that is making them win and you not?

David: Yeah, and for a lot of people, the difference between an online business and an offline. Is like night and day. Very often there are offline businesses that are trying to compete with online businesses, which have a completely different set of rules and a completely different set of benefits.

So very often, rather than saying, how can I compete with this website or whatever, it’s often better to say, how can I be competitive among the people who aren’t really interested in buying from a website, the people who are actually interested in buying from a human? If I’m selling as a human, right? If I’m selling through a website, then I have to ask the opposite question.

But there’s always something that we could and should be doing that will differentiate us from our competitors, and that’s what we need to find out.

Dan Kennedy, the marketing legend, I remember he said in a seminar one time, the question that we really need to ask ourselves:

Why should I do business with you versus any and every other option available to me, including doing nothing? And I was like, wow. Mind blown. Right?

But I’ve considered that question so many times over the years. And the last part of it, “including doing nothing” is huge. Because the biggest thing that people tend to do when they’re not buying is they’re deferring.

They’re delaying, they’re not doing anything. So the answer to that question has to position us in a way where doing business with us is better than them continuing to do what they’re doing or doing nothing.

Jay: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And such a great point. I’m just sitting here thinking about ways to differentiate myself. I personally am somebody who I don’t want to talk to anybody. I want to do it all online.

I will look for every last option to do it online. But if I’m looking for it online and then suddenly I get something in the mail that is a free piece of, you know, talking about promotional products. No website is going to do that, right?

And so now I have something tangible and there’s a name attached to that. And if that gets followed up by a phone call, then that’s a way in the door, that a website is never going to do.

A website is going to sit there. They’re going to do their Google ads and everything else, and they’re going to be competing for the same space in those search engines.

And so for you to try and rank even at a place where you’re going to get seen can be very difficult. So, the website path, I think in many ways is the harder path if you’re not already dominant in that area.

David: Right, and so many of the people that we work with are individuals or small businesses that are looking to get attention. They’re looking to create awareness in their market. They’re not sure how to do it. They look at all the online solutions and they get overwhelmed by that.

But it really is apples and oranges. And one of the analogies I use very often is it’s the difference between the kind of person who is going to hire a contractor to put a deck on the back of their house or go to Home Depot, buy the lumber, buy the nails, buy the tools, buy the saws, and do it themselves, right?

The people who end up going to the websites are the do-it-yourselfers. And so for most business, If you don’t want to compete with that, then you need to make sure that that’s one of your differentiators. That you’re looking for the people who would much rather interact with another human being.

And even those who might prefer to do business online, like you indicated. If I can do it quietly myself, I’m happy to do that. The only time that’s really different is that if you’re going to buy something and you know somebody and you trust somebody in that realm, then you’re actually kind of excited to pick up the phone.

When you want to buy something from somebody that you know and like and trust, as the old saying goes, you’re excited to do that. You’d rather do that than go online and find it. Which also goes back to our last discussion about relationships.

So, When we think in terms of what makes us different, a lot of it should be addressing who is our ideal target market? And it’s largely going to consist of people who want to do business the way that we do business, and then matching up our style of business with the way that they want to do it.

But identifying those people and disqualifying those who don’t meet those criteria are really the quickest ways to do that.

Jay: Yeah, I love that because I think so often in business, we feel like we have to sell to the whole world, like everybody is our client and that makes it very hard to zero in, very hard to market to. You’re going to dilute your marketing power when you do that

And what also occurs to me, David, is that you can do both. I mean, in the business model I’m in, we have a website that gives information. But we also offer a free 20 minute consultation. So now you’ve got kind of both. If they just want information from the website, then great.

If they want to talk to a human being and have specific answers to their situation, then great. And we do well off of both of those models. So it’s not like you have to pick one over the other. But one of the things I think is very important is you have to have somebody during that consultation who is good.

And if it’s you, then great. But if that 20 minute consultation is a sales call, then you’ll have blown your credibility. You need to make it a legitimate consultation where you provide a value and a service.

If they just get a sales call, man, I will hang that phone up so fast, you know, and move on to the next person.

David: Right. And I think for a lot of people, a lot of businesses, a lot of salespeople, the website is a good place for them to be able to deliver information that will advance the sale, advance the conversation.

So if you’ve got access to resources like that, you can say to someone who would like to interact with a human being you can go to the website, you can download that, or if you’d like, I’ll email it to you.

And the people who want to do business with humans might say, “yeah, just email it to me. I’d rather do that.” So identifying your target audience, letting people know the way that you do things. Those are the big differentiators that people are looking for. And at that point, a lot of it becomes simply finding the right audience.

Not trying to convince or persuade people who are not interested in doing business the way you do business to change their minds. You another great analogy that I love is, you can either try to preach to the choir or convert the heathens, right?

And converting the heathens is a lot harder. So if you can get yourself in front of a group of people who are already singing your tune, you’re in much better shape.

Jay: Yeah, and I’ll also add to that, you know, we talked about targeting the audience that will be best for your business model. But I think also assessing your strengths.

There’s a great book, it’s called Unfair Advantage, and it’s where you figure out where you excel more than other people or where you have contacts that other people don’t or whatever.

If you are really good at building relationships and really good at working with people, that should inform your business model, right? Because then the website is not going to be as effective as you reaching out and talking to somebody.

If you’re not that way, and you’re not a people person, you don’t want to talk to people, you just want a website that converts sales without you, well then that kind of speaks to your business model.

So it’s important to know your own strengths and where you are going to be the most successful.

David: Yes, and the type of person that your approach is likely to attract. Because if you just want to do it all online, there is a market for that. There are people who just want to do business that way.

But when you’re not doing business that way, I think it’s a mistake to try to bang that square peg into a round hole.

Jay: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Absolutely. How do people find out more, David?

David: You can go to TopSecrets.com/call to schedule a call with myself or my team. We’d love to have the conversation if you’re having trouble differentiating yourself in the market. If you’re having trouble identifying the people that you need to be interacting with, the ones who are actually likely to spend money with you, this will be time well spent.

So go to TopSecrets.com/call. We’d love to have the conversation.

Jay: All right. I always love our conversation. David, thank you so much for your time today.

David: Thank you, Jay.

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